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Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by TheGeneral, Feb 1, 2011.
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Get used to it- this will be the new norm. Recent financial reforms have limited fees that banks can charge, such as overdraft fees. Now that profits are lower, banks are looking for other ways to make up for the loss in revenue. Getting rid of free checking is the first thing on the cutting block. Chase, BofA, and Wells Fargo are already jumping on the bandwagon, and others will likely follow soon.
What the bank is trying to tell you is that they no longer value you as a customer, and that you should now be paying them for the privilege of keeping your money in their bank. This would, of course, be an excellent time to close your account and move your money to a different locally-owned bank or credit union, which will provide much better service without the excessive fees.
One of the large credit unions here where I live is running ads on TV all the time "making fun" of the big banks and their outlandish fees, and encouraging people to "fire their big bank" and move their money to a credit union.
I switched to using a credit union back in 2008, and I couldn't be happier. Not only do I not pay for the privilege of banking there, but they pay me in the form of interest, both on the membership share (savings) account and checking!
As said upthread, a lot of banks are doing this now to make up for a lack of revenue after legislation said they couldn't charge exorbitant fees in other situations. I'd switch to a local credit union, if you have one. Many do not charge fees on accounts, though obviously check first. You could also try an online bank. There are a lot of them with no fees and no minimum balance that are FDIC insured (ING, Ally, AmEx). Many online banks, and even some credit unions, will even pay interest on checking accounts without a minimum balance. Both of my banks, one brick-and-mortar and one online, do this.
Want an enlightening exercise? Pick out a handful of banks and credit unions that sound interesting to you. Choose some small local ones, some regional multi-state ones, and a few national ones. Call their main customer service number and ask them questions that are relevant to you. Some examples:
- "I usually keep my account balance around $xxxx. Would I have to pay a fee?"
- "Do you offer free online bill payment?"
- "Can I pay individuals and small merchants using your online bill pay?"
- "What are your customer service hours?"
- "What's your interest rate?"
- "Do I need to maintain any account minimums?"
- "Do you have any rewards programs or new customer incentives?"
- "I work for ____. Do you have any special programs for employees?"
When talking to national banks, be sure to ask how you make a deposit. 99% of my deposits are direct deposit, but I still get an occasional paper check, and it can be tough to deposit when you don't have a local branch!
I don't want to turn this into a spammy thread so I'll omit the name, but I bank with a regional multi-state bank. They're actually fairly large and I'm positive you'd recognize the name. Because of my employer, I get bumped up to the next level of checking (I get a decent interest rate with no monthly fees and no minimum balances, unlimited ATM fee refunds, 50% off safe deposit boxes, and a good-but-not-great rewards program). But most importantly, I went with them because every employee I've ever encountered there was friendly and genuinely helpful.
There are good "megabanks" out there, just as there are bad ones. Same goes for small banks. And there are also bad credit unions, just as there are good ones. Do your homework and don't be afraid to ask questions. Remember, it's the bank's / CU's privilege to handle your money -- they should be THRILLED to have you as a customer!